Queer Movie Marathon

Michael Lumpkin sings with the swans. Today, tomorrow, and throughout the entire run of the 32nd annual San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. For when it ends on June 29, Frameline’s longtime executive and artistic director is hanging up his chaps. Lumpkin deserves the lion’s share of the kudos for building the festival into the biggest rodeo of queer cinema in the world, and for turning this town into a movie mecca every June for industry professionals and cinema-mad tourists alike. (We’ll concede that the S.F. Pride parade is a bit of a magnet, too.) Fittingly, Lumpkin will be honored with the annual Frameline Award for his contribution to LGBT film, along with a heart-quickening sidebar of some of the festival favorites he programmed over the last 20 years, from early Almodóvar and Van Sant to Andy and Larry Wachowski’s Bound and Thomas Bezucha’s Big Eden. Lumpkin might best be remembered for his steadfast commitment to reflecting onscreen every niche, nook, cranny, and subculture of the gay and lesbian communities. This year’s program is typically inclusive, highlighted by the unexpected charm and gentle comedy of Butch Jamie, starring writer-director Michelle Ehlen as an aspiring actress who kickstarts her struggling L.A. career by playing a man in a low-budget independent film. History buffs and nostalgic expatriate New Yorkers can’t help but be moved by Sex Positive, Daryl Wein’s admirable nonfiction salute to Richard Berkowitz, the controversial (yet now nearly forgotten) ’80s public-bathhouse opponent and safe-sex advocate. A different breed of gay activist, Israeli plumber Ezra Nawi, stands up for Palestinian villagers in another discomfiting documentary, Citizen Nawi. The fest also boasts plenty of crossover candidates, from the hard-hitting Argentine saga XXY (about a teenage girl grappling with gender identity and puberty) to the North American premiere of Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band, which documents the career of the ’90s queer punk icons. Between Pansy frontman Jon Ginoli, artistic director Michael Lumpkin, and the thousands of festivalgoers celebrating California’s approval of gay marriage, singing is definitely in vogue at the SFILGBTFF.
June 19-29, 2008

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